DANCE THROUGH HISTORY

DANCE THROUGH HISTORY

Dance through history . . .

Gail Ingis & instructor Henry Skopp at Foxwoods competition. Gail got 1st place in Waltz and Foxtrot.

Dancin’ feet! Do you know the latest dance? Bet you would if you could . . . dance. “Tom,” I said, “For my birthday, come on, dance with me.”

Now that we got ourselves onto the dance floor, I began to wonder about the history of ballroom dancing. Dance history is difficult to access because dance does not often leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts that last over millennia, such as stone tools, hunting implements or cave paintings. It is not possible to identify with exact precision when dance became part of human culture. I suspect millenniums. We do know though, early dance, like 18th century sequence ballroom dancing in Jane Austen’s world, was used as a method of healing and expression. That has not changed.

Dancing with the Stars: https://youtu.be/nTWNrvnm2J8?t=20

Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Modern ballroom dance has its roots early in the 20th century, when several different things happened during and after World War I. The first was a movement away from the sequence dances toward dances where the couples moved independently. This was foreshadowed by the waltz which had already made this transition. The second was a wave of popular music that led to a burst of invented dances. The third event was a concerted effort to transform some of the dance crazes into dances which could be taught to a wider dance public in the US and Europe.

Vernon & Irene Castel

Vernon & Irene Castel, early ballroom dance pioneers, 1910-18

Here Vernon and Irene Castle were important, and so was a generation of English dancers in the 1920s. These professionals analyzed, codified, published and taught a number of standard dances. It was essential, if popular dance was to flourish, for dancers to have some basic movements they could confidently perform with any partner they might meet. Here the Arthur Murray organization in America, and the dance societies in England, such as the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, were influential.

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Later, in the 1930s, the on-screen dance pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers influenced all forms of dance in the USA and elsewhere. Much of their work portrayed social dancing, although the performances were highly choreographed, meticulously staged and rehearsed.

Our Instructors: Henry Skopp and Monika Barska

Henry Skopp and Monika Barska, our instructors at Southport, Fairfield, CT Fred Astaire Studios

Ballroom dance may refer to almost any type of partner dancing as recreation. However, with the emergence of dancesport in modern times, the term has become narrower in scope, and traditionally refers to the International Standard and International Latin style dances. The styles, while differing in technique, rhythm and costumes, exemplify core elements of ballroom dancing such as control and cohesiveness. There are variations that are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm which combine elements of both traditional Latin and Ballroom dances.

Competitive dancing

Young couple competiting in Chez Republic

Talented children dancing cha-cha-cha at a junior Latin dance competition in the Czech Republic. You should see kids like this dance live, they are terrific. Studying dance is hard work. For these competitions, it takes hours and hours and hours of lessons and practice.

Dance to the music

Dance to the music

Competitions, available for the ambitious, are sometimes referred to as Dancesport, range from world championships, regulated by the World Dance Council (WDC), to less advanced dancers at various proficiency levels. Most competitions are divided into professional and amateur, though in the USA pro-am competitions typically accompany professional competitions.The International Olympic Committee now recognizes competitive ballroom dance. It has recognized another body, the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), as the sole representative body for dancesport in the Olympic Games. However, it seems doubtful that dance will be included in the Olympic Games, especially in light of efforts to reduce the number of participating sports.

dance swingdance

 

Swing . . . one of my favorites. I also love the Waltz, it’s dreamy. We dance three days a week, private, practice and group. An amazing exercise. The benefits are astounding.

My ballroom gave me a surprise birthday party!

Personalized too! Birthday surprise for me at our ballroom dance party! And Tom next to me did it, went from never danced in life, to dancing with his wife. That’s me.

Tom and Gail

What’s your favorite dance?
Thanks to Wikipedia!

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How to Hold Your Reader on the Ride with Dynamic Pacing

How to Hold Your Reader on the Ride with Dynamic Pacing

Thunderbolt

We are passing on this AutoCrit excellent blog, with permission from Jocelyn, for your perusal.

Ever watched a movie that was so packed full of non-stop action it left you feeling breathless? Exhilarated, maybe… but disconnected from the characters – unable to learn much about them amidst the constant stream of explosions, car chases and death-defying peril?

Or have you ever read a story where the author droned on for so long about their characters’ thoughts, feelings, family history, and childhood until you thought please… please just let something – anything – happen?

If so, you’ve more than likely encountered a problem with pacing.

Pacing refers to the momentum of a story. There are times we want the reader frantically turning pages because there’s so much high-energy action, and there are times when we want to slow down the story – to let the reader sink into the prose like they would a warm, soothing bath.

Keeping the brain engaged requires a consistent mixture of these – like a rollercoaster ride. Take the reader slowly up to the top and then slam them down the other side, through blinding loops and breakneck corners… and then slow them back down again in preparation for the next dose of action.

A good story has a mix of fast-paced and slow-paced sections. This variety helps us generate tension, build anticipation, develop our characters, insert descriptions, drive the plot forward, and — above all – maintain our reader’s interest.

Strategies for keeping your ride in tip-top shape

Introspection and back-story are better “sprinkled” than “dumped”

Be careful if you have too many paragraphs or pages of long-winded back-story. Sizeable chunks of this can kill your pacing stone dead – something the AutoCrit Pacing Report can highlight for you.

Back-story should be woven in throughout your manuscript, organically drip-fed amidst the action rather than taking up extended chunks of space in the book.

Match your pacing to your story

Action scenes should have few (if any) slow-paced paragraphs. Sure, you might want to occasionally pause for breath to keep things from flying off the rails, but save the slow-paced sections for your more reflective scenes.

Use more dialogue in fast-paced scenes and more narrative in slower scenes

The quick-fire nature of dialogue can speed up a scene. Likewise, narrative prose can slow it down. Play with both techniques to control the momentum of your story.

Experiment with sentence lengths

Shorter sentences speed up a paragraph, while lengthy sentences slow down the momentum. Variety throughout your manuscript is key, but be careful to ensure you’re employing the right kind of sentences in the right places to keep your reader firmly under your control.

The exception to the rule

Every chapter should have a balance between fast- and slow-paced sections – with one exception: The first chapter.

The first chapter should move quickly with only the sparest bit of back-story. A line or two to give the reader context is okay; even a short paragraph here and there might be okay. But for the most part, you want to start with a bang and save the slow-paced sections for later in the manuscript.

Why? Because the first chapter is the most critical. It’s the chapter that determines whether your reader will keep reading, whether an agent will offer you a contract, and whether a publisher will consider your book for print. (No pressure, right?)

As sad as it sounds, the first chapter represents the entire book. It tells the reader about much more than the characters and situation – it shows them how you write and what they can expect in terms of storytelling.

If you bog that chapter down with exposition, description, and excessive narrative, it sends the message that the whole book will be a cumbersome read. So keep it moving and save the slow-paced sections for chapter two and beyond.

Pacing is one of the most important elements in a story. Keep it dynamic, and balance fast- and slow-paced sections to keep your readers turning those pages.

So go on – give a few of your chapters a careful look over and see if there are any points where your pacing is running away from you or slowing you to a crawl.

If you’re unsure, why not become an AutoCrit member for just $29.97/mo and give the Pacing & Momentum reports a try – alongside the many others, of course…

All of which are uniquely designed to quickly and easily ensure your manuscript stacks up against proven published works of fiction across multiple genres – so your next draft gains a better chance of getting snapped up by publishers than any other editing tool on the market can give it.

Indigo Sky, historical romance! AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq. Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

 

 

 

DAKOTA BUILDING HISTORY

DAKOTA BUILDING HISTORY

Dakota tower

Architect Henry J Hardenbergh designed The Dakota in1884. A local chap, he was born in New Brunswick, NJ.  Schooled at Hasbrouck Institute in Jersey City, and apprenticed in New York from 1865-1870 under Detlef Lienau, architect of Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Norwalk, CT. The Dakota apartments, a coop, is exclusive to the famous, movie stars, musicians and the wealthy.

The Dakota built 1884, photo is c.1890 First building in this remote area

The Dakota got its name because the  area was remote in relation to the rest of the Island of Manhattan, and more like the remote Dakota Territory, so far west and so far north, as mentioned in Christopher Gray’s book, New York Streetscapes.

Entrance

The building’s high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic town hall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s. High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch.

Dakota Indian figure

The Dakota is square, built around a central courtyard. The arched main entrance is a porte-cochère large enough for the horse-drawn carriages. The area is sheltered from the weather. The general layout of the apartments is in the French style of the period, with all major rooms not only connected to each other, in enfilade, in the traditional way, but also accessible from a hall or corridor, an arrangement that allows a natural migration for guests from one room to another, especially on festive occasions, yet gives service staff discreet separate circulation patterns that offer service access to the main rooms. The principal rooms, such as parlors or the master bedroom, face the street, while the dining room, kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented toward the courtyard. Apartments thus are aired from two sides, which was a relative novelty in Manhattan at the time. Some of the drawing rooms are 49 ft (15 m) long, and many of the ceilings are 14 ft (4.3 m) high; the floors are inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry.

Courtyard

Originally, the Dakota had 65 apartments with four to 20 rooms, no two being alike. The apartments all look out onto an open courtyard as depicted here in this photo. These apartments are accessed by staircases and elevators placed in the four corners of the courtyard. Separate service stairs and elevators serving the kitchens are located in mid-block. Built to cater for the well-to-do, the Dakota featured many amenities and a modern infrastructure that was exceptional for the time. The building has a large dining hall; meals also could be sent up to the apartments by dumbwaiters. Electricity was generated by an in-house power plant and the building has central heating. Beside servant quarters, there was a playroom and a gymnasium under the roof. In later years, these spaces on the tenth floor were converted into apartments for economic reasons. The Dakota property also contained a garden, private croquet lawns, and a tennis court behind the building between 72nd and 73rd Streets.

Dakota

All apartments were let before the building opened. For the high society of Manhattan, it became fashionable to live in the building, or at least to rent an apartment there as a secondary city residence, and the Dakota’s success prompted the construction of many other luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan.

Central Park at the foot of the Dakota

Wikipedia. Click this for more interesting facts like the famous who lived here, and John Lennon’s murder outside the building in 1980.

An entrance to the 72nd Street station of the New York City Subway‘s A B C trains is outside the building.

Dedicated as a National New York City Landmark in 1969, and in 1976 a National Historic Landmark.

Inspired by the Dakota Building, the Baldwins, a prominent family in my new five book series about four sisters and one brother, were the first tenants in the Sandanko Building, in the late nineteenth century. The remote area appealed to the rich, and has held that reputation since the first occupant to today, both for luxury apartment living and for the convenience of the popular Central Park directly across the street.

 My current book, Indigo Sky, can be found on Amazon in three forms, print book, ebook, and audiobook.

Indigo Sky for the reader who enjoys historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq  Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

 

 

 

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